Though the conventional fourth quarter has yet to begin, Niles, IL-based cataloger The Source for Everything Jewish has kicked off the New Year-make that the Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah.
The Source for Everything Jewish mails 1.5 million catalogs annually and stocks more than 3,000 Judaica items, from books to talesim to gourmet kosher food baskets. The company mailed 750,000 copies of its fall catalog in late August. According to buyer Karen Kogan, Rosh Hashanah–celebrated at dusk on Sept. 15 this year–ranks behind Chanukah and Passover in terms of sales. “It’s not a strong holiday for gift giving, like the other holidays.”
It can be a decent holiday for food and items related to the occasion, however. The cataloger was still tabulating Rosh Hashanah results at press time, and sales for the holiday were about flat with last year. But customers buying items such as a $75 Rosh Hashanah Gourmet Basket later into the season could propel the cataloger into positive sales territory, says Kogan. The cataloger offered free shipping on orders exceeding $75 if customers ordered on the Web.
Best sellers included decorative items such as a lulav and etrog set for the Festival of the Harvest, or Sukkot, wherein Jews erect celebratory tents (sukkahs) to commemorate the Jewish migration out of the dessert. One uses the lulav (branches of palm, myrtle, and willow bound together) and the etrog (a citrus fruit native to Israel) in blessings and prayers during the Sukkot observance.“We’ve really hit upon a niche with these items because people can’t find this merchandise anywhere,” Kogan says.